According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries’ (REDD+) programs are currently initiated across more than 50 countries. Measurement reporting and verification (MRV) is included as one of the most critical elements necessary for the successful implementation of any REDD+ payment mechanism. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has described three tiers each of which provides more reliable data and therefore a higher financial return. These three tiers are characterised by data produced with process-based models, which allow for transparent and accurate reporting by providing updated, reliable and valid site-specific information over time. A cost-effective monitoring and evaluation system for REDD+ requires a balanced approach that utilises both remote sensing and ground measurements.
MRV systems generally apply a combination of remote sensing techniques and in-situ field assessments to provide information on activity data and emission factors. A few of the critical challenges of MRV systems are reliable estimation of deforestation, afforestation, forest enhancement and degradation. These processes follow different time scales of operations and magnitude of impacts, their identification and assessments require different approaches. Currently fairly good satellite based global to sub-national monitoring systems are in use to monitor forest cover gain and loss facilitating estimating carbon fluxes from deforestation and afforestation.
On the other hand, the quantification of carbon fluxes of forest land remaining as forest over the given monitoring period due to forest enhancement and degradation is a difficult task. Nevertheless it is important as it contributes to a larger proportion of carbon dynamics. The identification of different drivers of degradation — unsustainable extraction of forest based products, fuelwood, logging, roads construction, forest fires and quantification of carbon fluxes due to intensity of each driver — is a commonly followed approach at national scales. Such approaches are not suitable on local scales in community forestry systems where reliable driver data is lacking and also operational remote sensing technologies are not well demonstrated.
In view of this, the adoption of community based forest monitoring tools involving local stakeholders is being tested as one of the alternate systems to assess forest degradation and enhancement. The completeness, consistency and correctness of these components depend on spatial explicitness of the given observations, estimation methods, reporting and up scaling approaches put into practice.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has been studying the status of forests in the Himalayan region for more than 30 years with the aim of improving understanding of the important role that forests play, gathering and disseminating information on improved management approaches, identifying governance issues and improved governance approaches, and developing baseline information on forest area, status and changes over time. The ICIMOD’s Regional REDD+ Initiative, under its REDD+ Himalaya component, facilitates the ‘REDD+ readiness’ processes of the member countries at various scales through capacity building and knowledge sharing. One of the objectives of the REDD+ Himalaya is establishing a regional platform to promote and facilitate learning on various aspects of REDD+. The MRV system is an important aspect of monitoring REDD+ activities, and REDD+ Himalaya encourages its learning at both local and regional scales. In this context, a five-day regional expert meeting and workshop is being organised by the ICIMOD’s Regional REDD+ Initiative under its REDD+ Himalaya component. This regional platform will encourage establishing measuring and reporting systems for piloting REDD+ activities at local scales whereas on the other hand, it will provide basis for learning on various aspects of REDD+ MRV at regional level.
Under the REDD+ Himalaya programme, the overall objective of the meeting and workshop is to understand the current status of REDD+ MRV in partner countries (Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal) and to discuss where and how the MRV components need to be strengthened under the regional platform. The specific objectives are to:
Participants of the workshop are from Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal. Each country will nominate two participants with clear understanding of REDD+ MRV status and needs at the national and sub-national level. They will be responsible for the next three years to make progress with ICIMOD and funding partners in this domain. ICIMOD highly encourages women’s participation to ensure its gender equity policy. In this workshop, 50% female participation is expected.
Based on this workshop, a technical report will be compiled which provides the baseline on REDD+ MRV progress in REDD+ Himalaya programme countries. Participants can discuss how to develop sub-national REDD+ projects that rely on remote sensing technology for MRV processes.
The workshop will be jointly hosted by ICIMOD and Forest Research Institute (FRI), Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) and will take place in Naypyitaw 24 – 26 October 2016. This will be followed by a field trip to Inlay Lake on 27 October whereas participants will leave for their respective countries on 28 October 2016 from Naypyitaw. Participants are requested to attend all sessions including the field trip. Lunch and refreshments will be provided during each session.
All logistics including the costs of participant accommodation, per diems and workshop meals will be provided by the ICIMOD.